Children lined up tightly in height order before me, some of them holding the child just in front of them by the shoulders. That’s South Africa: Children don’t seek their own spaces, nor do adults, for that matter. People think nothing of squeezing into bus seats, benches, or in this case, face-painting lines.
My fellowship colleagues and I were at a children’s birthday party in Langa, a township in Cape Town where infestation is rampant, and water and electricity are almost nonexistent. Yet there is no shortage of hope, as evidenced by these children’s sweet, anticipatory faces, as they waited their respective turns to have a national flag or other symbol painted on their cheeks.
“Bra-SIL!” exclaimed my first customer, a boy of maybe three years old, as he stepped toward me. He had rolled the “r” and used a hard “s,” so I knew this little man meant business. Having seen the South African flag everywhere over the past week, I was equipped for the symbol I thought I would be asked to paint on his expectant little cheek. But I had no clue how to draw the Brazilian flag.